NOVEMBER/DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/2014 - CHESHVAN/KISLEV/TEVET/SHEVAT 5774
Count Our Blessings
Hanukkah is 8 days long. Why? The holiday commemorates the recapture of the Temple in 167 from the Syrian Greeks. The Jews who thought to re-purify the Temple after it was defiled searched for oil to light the candelabra. There was enough oil for 1 night, but, miraculously, the oil burned for 8.
So, here is the question: Why do we celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah the miracle of lights for eight nights? Shouldn’t we only observe the holiday for 7 nights? Because, in the end, the oil burning for one night was no miracle. We expected that. There was enough oil for one night. The subsequent seven nights were miraculous. Furthermore, seven is a stock number in Judaism that jives better with our week and systems and counting. Why eight days of a miracle when the actual miracle was only seven??
The answer is, the first miracle was in the Jews having the courage to light the candela bra in the first place with no certainty of how long it would last. Were they not to light the one-day oil supply the miracle would never happen. The take away for us is that life is loaded with uncertainties; unrealized miracles and even frustrations yet to be uncovered. We can no longer map out each day of the miracle before it begins. We cannot light the candle and expect it to last for eight days and express disappointment when it lasts for less. We can no longer expect the length, timing and exactness of life and all that it brings us and especially the people that bring it to us. We need to be better at accepting. Hanukkah is a Festival of Lights. But, it’s also a time to remind us to have courage and fortitude and to never accept blessings for granted. Each night and day of light, liter ally and figuratively is a blessing.
Hag Urim Sameach.
Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner